As unsponsored, weekend Mountain bikers, we've all googled how good is the quality of Chinese carbon products?. As a result, we've learn't about many a "mountain biker's" response in the internet forums describing their experience as positive and couldn't see the difference.
What that reply often fails to address however, is the fact that the commenter, is not exactly a mountain biker and is stereotypical of what you'd find on most internet MTB forums. An uneducated know all. They've decked their bike out with replacement carbon parts from aliexpress or wish and have merrily ridden it around on a gravel path a few times and called themselves a mountain biker.
Now I can comfortably say, my curiosity for cheaper Chinese knock-offs was satisfied some years back when I purchased a $12 set of experimental Ritchey carbon, flat handlebars. My experiment was nothing more than mounting a stem to a hunk of wood, fitting some grips to them and providing some padding underneath the area that populated the grips. the next order of business was to point load the bars using only my body weight in a mimic of myself cocking up a jump and landing way to heavily on the bars.
I'm not going to list the results or even have any photographic evidence of it as, well, it's just plain nasty. But let's just say, I got away with bruised knuckles and I consider that as good as winning the lotto given what could have been..... Right there and then I had made a conscience decision to never by a knock of carbon part again unless it was a non structural item of say, a bottle cage....
So it's now 2021, I am content with my Chromag and Raceface carbon bars I run on both my bikes. They feel good, are stiff where they need to be and in all honesty, don't weigh all that much less than their alloy counterparts. Surely by now most other people buying decent mountain bikes know that genuine parts are priced high for a reason?
Well for ole mate out on his bike in Glenbervie last weekend I take it that's a no. To set the scene, I was packing down the weekend after our local enduro. I was milling about the park packing up tape and saw two older chaps out on their bikes enjoying the damp and slippery trails. I get to the gate to unlock it and let myself out and see one of them meandering his way back up the road. Something doesn't look right and as he approaches I see a nasty eyebrow gash, a very dirty body with distinctive skid marks and a floating left-hand handlebar which has clearly sheared off at the point of the rise.
My initial cringe and Oh F#$K moment was one of "this guy must have taken one big digger" and broken his bars on a massive stack. well, not quite.... After talking to him briefly and finding out he was literally, just riding along. The inspection showed just how lucky he was, the sheepish rider was on his way back to his car with what he tells us were his "genuine raceface bars". I'm sure he would have been heading for a hot shower and lie down and stock take of his bike bits....
Shortly after, his riding buddy catches up to us at the gate. After some general chit chat and an assurance his mate was ok and on his way home, the comment of "that'll teach him to buy cheap Chinese sh*t" popped up (We kinda figured they were due to the horrendous logo copy anyway). Turns out, he wanted to trial a few different cockpit styles, but rather than research things, a quick (hahaha) order to aliexpress was the way forward.
A week later, a mates genuine Ritchey seat post failed too. we both googled and theorised it likely was knock off as it predated his ownership of the bike. The carbon layup was uneven, the internal reinforcing wasn't continuous and overall quality control was lacking once looked at closely.
Now I'm not saying all Chinese things will fail miserably and leave you on the floor with shards of cheap carbon in places they shouldn't. But I sure as hell now know that after the multiple failures I've seen, I wouldn't ever trust buying carbon items that aren't genuine products.
The above explains where I am going with this. Please, please, please!! For your own safety and potentially, your life. The bars previous were a complete failure Don't buy cheap carbon crap from Chinese websites. The old adage of you get what you pay for rings so bloody loudly here and is definitely a motto that needs to be followed with such things as handlebars and structural items. This begs the question now though, given the flood of market items both new and second hand, what is genuine anymore?